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Islamic extremist groups still enjoy using the Internet and social media to spread propaganda and recruit, but are becoming more skilled in flying under the radar. Intelligence experts are collecting information from previous reckless Internet posts, and that is something the terrorists want to avoid in the future.
To help share propaganda, the groups are largely turning to the Dark Web - and using Skype, WhatsApp, and software that isn't as open. ISIS went a step further by issuing guidelines to its members posting on social media, such as blurring out faces, ensuring geographic tagging is disabled, and being careful what information they are providing on current operations.
"We realize that the people we are interested in are increasingly specialized in computing," said Philippe Chadrys, the head investigator of France's judicial police responsible for fighting terrorism, in a statement to the AFP. "They master encryption software and methods to better erase data. That makes our probes much more complicated."
As of today, YouTube will now default to HTML5 video on your web browser when available - if not, Flash will still be used. This is said to promote faster video loading, better compression and smoother frame rates.
Flash was was seen on almost every major website, providing a once-new aged feel and expansive additions to various companies who loved to auto-play music, display animations and provide interactive experiences. Now these features are long gone, along with Flash and their default integration with the massive online streaming service, YouTube.
Explained as a four-year development cycle, HTML5 will enable YouTube videos to load "15 to 80 percent" faster due to this process including updates for MediaSource extensions, enabling ABR and the potential for time-shifted live video broadcasts. This HTML5 inclusion supports Ultra HD and 60 frames per second streaming, hinging on Google's open-source VP9 codec - often known as WebM. WebM is said to continue the video quality trend of H.264, but will reduce bandwidth requirements by 35 percent as explained by Gizmodo.
The FCC is attempting to expand the definition of broadband internet, but the usual suspects are lining up to oppose the move. The FCC wants broadband to be defined as 25Mbps down, and 3Mbps up, to match the reality of current generation internet connections. Unfortunately the entrenched ISP's want to leave the definition at a paltry 4Mbps download speed.
The map above illustrates just how depressingly slow the internet is at most locations in the US. The areas in blue all have access to speeds above 25Mbps, but the remainder of the map does not even have access to services that reach that speed.
The FCC has opened the floor for debate on the issue, and several cable companies have come forward to decry the new definition. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is one of the most vocal opponents to the new classification system. This isn't surprising in light of the fact that current regulations stifle competition in many markets, a system that President Obama is trying to change through executive actions that remove much of the red tape for new telecom companies.
There are 19 states that have very restrictive policies that discourage open competition. This results in only 25% of US household actually having a choice between two providers who offer the base speed of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. Chattanooga, Tennessee, took the step of providing their own internet service with amazing results. For only $70 a month their residents enjoy gigabit speeds, and other providers in the area have been forced to lower their price-gouging rates in response.
Google is announcing four new cities they are adding to the ultra-fast Google Fiber network. According to the Wall Street Journal the blazing-fast one gigabit connections will soon be added in Atlanta and Nashville. Lucky North Carolinians will get two cities added to the list, with Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte joining the ranks of those blessed with fast connections for as low as $80 per month.
The rollouts will not be offered to the entire city in each area, but instead will be deployed based upon customer interest. This expansion more than doubles the number of cities benefitting from Google Fiber connections, which are currently offered in Kansas City, MO, Austin, TX, and Provo, UT.
Google Fiber is challenging the status quo of normal ISP's, which charge prices well in excess of global averages for a fraction of the speed. The US lags woefully behind other developed countries in terms of speed and price, and much of that has to do with rules and regulations governing telecommunication firms. President Obama recently took to the airwaves to announce executive actions targeting these restrictive regulations, so there are some hopeful developments along that front.
Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe they have been distracted at work by checking emails, browsing the Web, and engaging in social media, according to a survey released by Stop Procrastinating. The figure is a nine percent increase year-over-year, and 39 percent of respondents said it cost them at least one hour per day browsing the Web, booking personal travel, or looking at viral videos.
Companies also have shown concern that a growing number of employees bring a smartphone or tablet into the workplace, so they have access to content they otherwise couldn't find on a work PC.
"It seems that being able to communicate with friends quickly over social media is a positive development, but engaging on social forums to debate issues, as some people in our survey admitted, suggests that some people are becoming more distracted by the Internet at work than they should," said Will Little, designer and creator of Stop Procrastinating, said in a statement. "While the immediate sense of gratification might be high, over time our survey shows this leads to a lack of satisfaction as productivity levels drop and people begin to achieve less."
Social media platforms like Facebook are being closely watched alongside the tech giant Google - not just for their updates, technology advancements and product launches, but their apparent sale of your personal data to advertisers.
Back in 1990, the Wall Street Journal released an article titled "Computer Disc Spurs New Fears About Privacy," publicizing a concern that marketers are buying your personal data on computer disks. We were reminded by Gizmodo that this information came around due to a company named Lotus selling disks of basic information to companies who would use this for direct mail marketing.
This was a big deal in 1990, with the article stating: "Privacy advocates are raising the alarm about a new Lotus Development Corp. product that lists names, addresses, shopping habits and likely income levels for some 80 million U.S. households. Due for release early next year, Lotus Marketplace packs the data on palm-sized compact disks aimed at small and midsized businesses that want to do inexpensive, targeted direct-mail marketing".
Raleigh and Durham will see Google events held within their borders next Wednesday and Thursday respectively, rumored to be an announcement of a Google Fiber service roll-out. Reports claim that construction may begin as of April, as released by the local TV station, WRAL.
These two locations combine with Chapel Hill to make an area known as Research Triangle, all of which were on the preliminary list of 34 locations that Google released last February as possible new Fiber locations.
Currently available in Provo, Utah, Austin, Texas and Kansas City, Google Fiber provides consumers with a free 5Mbps service, with only a $300 setup fee needing to be paid. However if you're looking for something more substantial, they offer gigabit plans for $70 per month, or you can pay between $30-$30 more to have 100+ TV channels included in the bundle - both of these latter options requiring no setup fee.
YouTube's Music Key service is trying to build its popularity and apparently they're going the wrong way about it. Zoë Keating has expressed her concerns on Tumblr, asking the simple question "What should I do about YouTube?"
What's the problem, you ask? Summed up in the opening paragraph of this blog, Keating states "...the message was firm: I have to decide. I need to sign on to the new YouTube music services agreement or I will have my YouTube channel blocked." This statement points to a possibility that this is a move by the Google-owned company to force artists over to their new service in a pledge to increase popularity thanks to there being no other option.
Active Baby Boomers are aging, but are increasingly embracing the Internet on PCs, smartphones, tablets, and other electronics - with 60 percent of adults 65 years of age or older now regularly using the Internet. Furthermore, 44 percent of smartphone owners 50 years or older access the Internet or check email every day from a PC or mobile device, according to Pew.
Mobile makers are finding a lucrative opportunity to market devices to a wide age group, ranging from children to Baby Boomers - especially as many older adults use devices such as tablets and e-readers for casual Internet use and reading.
"As Baby Boomers age into their 60s and 70s, they are showing a determination to stay current with digital technology's advances," said George Otte, CEO of Geeks on Site, in a press statement. "We see an increased reliance on using the Internet, but with more comfortable access models like desktop computers, rather than smartphones and tablets. It's within this segment that we see an opportunity to guide and help these Boomers."
Timotheus Höttges claimed at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich that companies like Facebook and Google are increasingly turning into communications services, without being regulated as such. During this conference, the Deutsche Telekom stated that "Facebook is a communications service but it's not investing in telco infrastructure; this is unfair. Why does it escape regulation, yet it gathers data freely?"
Höttges went on to mention that Facebook offers a call and messaging service, however they do not have to register with German or U.K regulators, where as telecom companies, like is own do - "There isn't a level playing field."
Deutsche Telekom is further upset as they are investing €23 billion ($26 billion US) over the next 5 years into the German infrastructure, whereas companies like Google and Facebook "are not participating at all." Höttges mentioned that he isn't blaming the Silicon Valley companies directly for negligence, rather pointing towards the regulatory authorities, telling them to do their part and make it easier for traditional telecom companies to compete, adding "what we need is one single legislation for Europe."